Abuses in Ehpad: public authorities ‘not up to it’, says Rights Defender – Sciences et Avenir

The rights advocate once again sounds the alarm about “attacks” on fundamental rights and “bullying” of the elderly in nursing homes and believes that the response of state authorities is “not up to par”.

“We continue to see violations of the rights of those living in nursing homes (…). The government response is not in line with the reported violations and urgency,” lamented Claire Headon in an interview with JDD, who is submitting a follow-up report on Monday on 64 recommendations issued in May 2021 during the Covid crisis.

The May 2021 document and Victor Castanet’s book Les Fossoyeurs, which is expected to be updated at the end of January, “raised the awareness not only of public authorities, but of the whole society,” emphasizes Claire Edon. . But much remains to be done.

She cites an “increase in reporting” to the Rights Advocate, which investigated some 900 complaints in the six years leading up to the 2021 report and 181 complaints in just 18 months.

The next steps, detailed in the report, were drawn up on the basis of complaints and “the responses of ministries and state bodies to the recommendations we sent,” the Rights Defender clarifies.

These are “ill-treatment” (43% of cases), “restriction of visits” (30%), “restriction of freedom of movement” (12%). These shortcomings apply to both the private and the public. But “Eighteen months after the first report, the results are extremely alarming: 9% of our recommendations have been implemented, 55% have been announced but are difficult to implement, and 36% remain unanswered,” laments Claire Headon.

Its main recommendation is to establish a “minimum ratio of supervision” including “at least eight caregivers and assistants per ten nursing home residents”. “In France, the ratio is 6 to 10, while in the Nordic countries it is 10,” she told JDD. And “if you restore the normal rate of supervision, educators will return to work there.”

– “Random isolation” –

According to a report released on Monday, “certain worries” such as the toilet are “arranged according to accounting logic to reduce the number of staff.” It is reminiscent of nursing home residents who “at best showered every two weeks” and for a time “stayed in hospital gowns or pajamas most of the time.” To compensate for the lack of staff, the institution introduced “two days of bed rest per week for each resident.”

Claire Henon rights advocate, July 20, 2020, Paris (AFP/Archive – JOEL SAGET)

Another black spot is late institutionalization after some Covid infections. The rights advocate asks to “put an end to violations of freedom of movement” and “restore the right to maintain family ties for the residents of Ehpad” (this issue accounts for 46% of the applications received).

She cites “cases of arbitrary isolation of residents in their rooms” or “restrictions on visits”, details examples of “forbidding the presence of a loved one during meals; the obligation to keep the doors of the rooms open to check compliance with the observance of the distance between people; no physical contact, such as holding hands.”

Third, the report highlights shortcomings in the fight against abuse, in particular the lack of “a reliable measurement tool that is used by all oversight bodies.” He calls for “a system of medico-social vigilance to enhance the identification, reporting and analysis of situations of abuse.”

The project has been underway since the government launched three administrative missions in September to develop ways to better identify, quantify and prevent abuse of the elderly, disabled and children.

Welcoming the government’s decision to test all 7,500 Ehpads in the wake of the Orpea scandal, she notes a “lack of human resources” to carry out the “necessary checks.”

Announced by the government in March 2022, the publication of 10 key indicators for each establishment to help families make their choice has not yet been published.

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